Understanding and Managing Bullying in the Workplace with Phyllis Quinlan

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This is a podcast episode titled, Understanding and Managing Bullying in the Workplace with Phyllis Quinlan. The summary for this episode is: <p>This week Rebecca sits down with Phyllis Quinlan, Ph.D., author of <em>Bringing Shadow Behavior Into the Light of Day</em>, and President of MFW Consultants. Phyllis is here to help us recognize disruptive behavior, including bullying and narcissistic behavior, to guide us to handle those personalities in the workplace. Tune in this week for Phyllis's insights into how you can stop letting disruptive behavior ruin your experiences and culture at work. </p>
How Phyllis Got Involved with Work in Creating a Healthy Work Environment
02:10 MIN
A Look at Disruptive Behavior
03:21 MIN
Approaches When Working with a Chronically Uncivil Person
01:22 MIN
Bully Behaviors to Look Out For
03:48 MIN
Don't Let Narcissistic Bullies Disrupt You or Your Peers/Employees Experiences
03:32 MIN
Two Key Items to Know and Take Seriously
02:52 MIN
Reflection Questions
00:56 MIN

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: (singing). Hello, this is Rebecca Fleetwood Hession, host of The Badass Womens Council Podcast. And I'm super glad that you're here. We provide reflection and connection for the high achieving career woman. So after the episode, we'll give you a couple of reflection questions. Things to ponder as a result of the episode and then jump into the online community, badasswomenscouncil. community, where you can continue the conversation. We have a weekly session where you can come in and discuss the things from our reflection questions. And then there're some other cool stuff in there as well. You can join the Badass MasterClass monthly subscription. There're some classes in there you can take. Come on over. You'll meet some cool people. All right, here we go with today's episode.( singing). Today's episode, we have Phyllis Quinlan, PhD. And Phyllis is going to talk to us about a healthy work environment, especially as we look at, do we go back to the office? Do we not go back to the office? And in some cases, why don't people want to go back to the office? Phyllis has a rich background in healthcare as a registered nurse, but she is now the president of MFW Consultants. And her recent book is called Bringing Shadow Behavior Into the Light of Day: Understanding and Effectively Managing Bullying and Incivility in Healthcare. But this isn't just about healthcare, it is about workplace environment. I can't wait for you to listen to this discussion and think about what this means for you in your workplace. Here we go.( singing). Hey, Phyllis, how is it going?

Phyllis Quinlan: Hi, Rebecca. It's going really well. Thank you.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I'm so glad that you're here. We've had a chance to chat a little bit this morning and get to know each other a little bit. And I am excited to dive into your topic about creating a healthy work environment, which is more important than it's ever been coming out of the challenges that we've all been through. Give us a little bit of background, how did you get involved in this topic to be writing about it and representing it as an expert? Tell us a little bit about how this became important to you.

Phyllis Quinlan: Right. Well, it's something I've been engaged in trying to promote as a leader myself and certainly working in the departments that I have been leading. My doctorate is in administration and I am concerned about the overlooking of disruptive behavior and how that contributes to unhealthy work environments. And it just seems to be the elephant in the room that nobody knows about, but nobody, it's not that they don't want to acknowledge it, I think they're a little concerned that if they do acknowledge it, they might be opening this Pandora's box. And they may not have the support and the guidance to be able to navigate it well and it could ultimately erupt in the wrong direction on them. And they're good to think about that, but I think right now as you suggested, after our experiences in 2020 and the first piece of 2021, as we try to encourage our staff to come back to the office away from remote work, as we are trying to recruit and retain our talent, and also we're now far more re aware of the importance of resilience and you cannot build staff resilience without creating a healthy work environment that will support that resilience. You can't send them to a massage chair for 15 minutes and then have them come back to constant stress and strain because the work environment is not working. It checks the box and does nothing when you do that. So I think now we have a leadership imperative and no greater time than to take a very serious look at our collective work environments and do the very best we can to create ones that are seamless, that are supportive, that retain talent, encourage innovation and create a safe place for people to start to reengage in their life fully.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I couldn't agree more. I was excited to have you on the show because this is a topic that's very near and dear to my heart. My background is in business consulting as well. And what I now help my clients do, which I think is a great compliment to your work in the way that will align in this conversation is, I break it down very simply and say that the business needs are to control measure and optimize. A leader is thinking about that constantly. What are the goals? What are the metrics? How can I grow this business? How can I do what I need to do? I'm responsible for it. Those are very finite things that we're looking for. But people, our needs are personal, emotional, and social. And so because of that, it's not very finite. People feel because we are a bit uncertain and unpredictable, whereas the business needs are so finite that leaders gravitate there and are less likely to engage in the human needs because they don't feel equipped. And I think what you just said is not a malicious act oftentimes, it's, " I don't know what to do about it so I'm afraid to even open the conversation." But now more than ever, what we've identified as some companies, people are ready to come back to work. They've missed each other. They're ready to have meetings together again. They're ready to have conversations and others are really struggling because people want to stay at home. And what I heard you say is that the people that want to stay at home may be responding to the previous disruptive behavior that they experienced in their work environment and don't want to come back to that. Is that a fair assumption of what you said earlier to me?

Phyllis Quinlan: It is a fair assumption, Rebecca. I'm sure, like everything, there are multiple layers to the question of, why don't you want to return to on- site employment? So there's childcare issues, there's family issues, there's personal preference issues. There's a lot of things. But part of that might be that it was just so much easier not to have to work around through, over or tolerate systems that are not working and disruptive behaviors that are overlaying those systems that are not working that are just making it that much more inaudible and have a little leftover to have a life at the end of the day.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Right. So when you discuss disruptive behavior, can you break it down for us so we can even look around at our own workplaces and say, " Is that me? Is that something I need to address?" What is it?

Phyllis Quinlan: So I'm going to elaborate on that just a little bit. So there are many, many authorities out there on what are the pillars, or what are the elements of a healthy work environment. There's [Christina Matt Lott's 00:08:18] work. You can see a ton of publications in the Harvard Business Review. Even in the Nursing Associations have publications out there that talk about communication, collaboration, authentic, leadership, adequate staffing. And they all target, pretty much the same thing. They may say it in, put it in different categories, they name it differently, but it means the same thing. But when I read these authorities, the mark that I think they're missing is the impact of disruptive behavior upon the workplace. So in my interpretation, you have, and in coring the country and talking about this, what we've come up with is about 85 to 90% of the people come to work ready, willing, and able to engage in their career, and the mission and the value in the goals of the company. So 85 to 90% of people are looking to show up and do a great job. There are that 10 to 15% that are either engaging in what I call chronic incivility and, or real true bullying behaviors. Of that, let's say 15% of disruptive behavior. About 10% is engaging in that chronic incivility. Let me clarify that a little bit.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Please.

Phyllis Quinlan: These are the people that just suck all the air out of the room. All right? These are the people that can't get to work on time, can't come back from a break on time, can't deliver to the team on time, always have an excuse. You're looking to have a cup of coffee in the break room and they have to somehow talk about themselves and how their life is going wrong in the latest saga of a failed relationship. They are just unaware of their low emotional intelligence and how that spills over and it just destroys the positivity in the room. I call these people energy vampires. You could be having a really great day, you sit down to have a cup of coffee, you sit in a room with an energy vampire, you leave the room and you don't know why you're tired, because they just suck the joy, the energy, chronic complaining, you name it. They engage in this low level of emotional intelligence behavior. And we tolerate them. And the staff is looking at leadership, saying, " Do you see what's going on here." And their leadership, excuse me, the staff, 85% of the staff is looking to leadership to do something. All right. Just address it somehow. Acknowledge that we're all laboring underneath this and that the distraction of this constant irritation. These are the kinds of folks that if they call in sick, you're going to have a better day. You know who I'm talking about, right?

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Totally.

Phyllis Quinlan: So they cause this chronic distraction and you start to make errors, you can't even focus, you can concentrate your job or your role or your project. It's just that much harder to do. The second category, fortunately, this is a much smaller... Sure.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Before you go to the second category, I just want to give a real time example that yesterday one of my coaching clients, as we were going through some things that he's working on, it came up that he has one of these, that he has influenced without authority over this person on as a part of the team. The person doesn't directly report to him, but he's a part of a sales team that's impacting his trust to take him in with clients and do these things. And I said to him, " You have such decision fatigue and exhaustion from being around this person because you don't know if you can trust them to do the right thing and you're constantly trying to fight or flight and ebb and flow around this person that you're too exhausted to do great work for yourself." And he just sat back in his chair with this deep sigh and he said-

Phyllis Quinlan: And the rest of the team.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: He goes, " That's it." He goes, " My wife is so tired of me talking about this person." He said, " I just feel like I am exhausted." So there's a real life example of it's impacting his ability to do his best work even though that he's not directly tied to him, but it's impacting him. So a real time example.

Phyllis Quinlan: That's easy. Absolutely. And if you think about the leadership imperative that you talked about those people who are business minded, without an engaged focused staff, tell me what you're going to measure, tell me what you're going to inaudible. There's not much.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Awesome.

Phyllis Quinlan: So again, but you have 15% of your staffers pulling in the opposite direction. You really need to start to put some realization and awareness around that. And then very, very important to collaborate with your human resource and upper administration to have a coordinated effort around this, because it's not so much with the chronic uncivil employee, but where we're talking about the true bully. The true bully has a way of being able to gaslight and use plausible deniability to the point that makes it sound like you are doing the bullying and you are harassing them. So that if you're not coordinating your strategy with executive leadership and human resources, you could have this whole situation backfire on you.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: So let's go back to the example of the chronic instability. And this was the example I gave with it yesterday for my client. And I did give that advice to go meet with the director that's above that person and him and set some expectations and goals around how they can get better results for everybody. What other things would you, practical, tactical invite our listeners to do if they are facing a chronic instability, and then we'll talk next about the bullying.

Phyllis Quinlan: So in working with somebody who's chronically uncivil, you have to that the basis of their issue, the basis of the incivility is low emotional intelligence. Now, you can work with human resources, you can work with outside sources or resources, but you have to have both the time and money and investment that it's going to take to put a remediation plan in place. So when you're working with someone who's chronically uncivil, one of the first things you want to do is assess whether you want to make the investment in this person. Is their job performance and job product commensurate with you having to make the investment of time, training, money and resources in order to offer them an opportunity to grow personally? Once you answer that, then I would first start with definitely getting them into some training for emotional intelligence. And if possible, and the money is there to try to get them some coaching to coordinate with that emotional intelligence training, because to take a class in emotional intelligence and check the box on that, does not increase your emotional intelligence. You need to work with someone who's going to hold you accountable. Now, if you indeed have the time, money and resources to invest in giving this person an opportunity to develop, then what you can expect is what I call stair- step progress. You're going to go up one stair, you're going to go down, you're going to go up two, you're going to go back one. They are going to get it and then they're not going to get it. So the important piece here is to gauge whether they get it more than they don't because changing personalities or growing a personality, or letting go of habitual behaviors that are no longer serving themselves or others takes time. And that's why I say you have to really make a determination, do you have what it takes to invest in this person or do you need to just go to the 100- day performance improvement plan, offer them some resources and then call it good? This is a decision you make leader by leader, department by department.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Right. Which is also why I have a very strong bias around not engaging in big group training sessions that are expected to change individual people's behavior. So I used to often be asked to come in and do training sessions in a prior life of mine. And when I'd get down to the diagnosis, it was really because Bill was an ass hole. I would say, " So why are we training 40 people and flying them all over the country for me to come in because Bill is an ass hole? Why don't we just deal with Bill."

Phyllis Quinlan: Right. And the assessment get right.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And oftentimes, it was because they didn't know how, or it was uncomfortable-

Phyllis Quinlan: Or they were concerned that Bill would retaliate with some sort of human resource complaint. And that's why you want to make a coordinated effort around that because if you're doing that, if you're putting Bill in a class with 39 other talented people who haven't put a foot wrong, toss me, the 39 others are going to be smart enough to understand we're all sitting here because of Bill and they're all going to be updating their resume, saying, " I'm done. I'm done. This is the last thing. I need to be working on my project, not sitting here taking the class that Bill is now on the phone not paying attention to." And we need to be able to really put a plan in place and monitor somebody, make sure that you're checking in with them frequently. And I'm not talking about once a week, I'm talking about every three days, and being ready, willing and able to do just- in- time coaching so that when you see a repetitive behavior that is unacceptable, that you make them aware in the moment, " Can I speak to you just for a second? So Bill, here's the issue. Did you hear what you just said or did you see the reaction of other people? This is exactly what we're trying to bring to your attention and hope that you can self- monitor and change." And that's it.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: If you're talking about financial resources, you just take the money that you would have done in this big group training session and funnel that into that work with Bill, and everybody's going to elevate their game by you addressing Bill, right?

Phyllis Quinlan: Even more. Because the message that's sent to the 39 others is that we see it, we're aware of it and we're on it. That's the big piece there. And then here's the other thing, when you make these decisions, one of the things you need to factor in, because we're all working with finite resources, nobody's got a blank check, but do we really want to pour our resources into the 10% that are holding us back, or do we want to pour resources into the 85 that are with us 110%? And I think we have given too much oil to squeaky wheels.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: crosstalk.

Phyllis Quinlan: And I think it's been well- intended and I think we've gotten the best thinking and guidance from human resources at the time, but I think it's time to step back and take a broader look, a bigger look, and really say, " The squeaky wheel gets the oil? Okay. But how many times are you going to re- oil that wheel until you decide to change the wheel?"

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Absolutely.

Phyllis Quinlan: And common sense is, I understand it's not so common, but sometimes we have to have, and this is why I call this a leadership imperative, we have to have them be the managerial leadership courage to do the right thing, even if it means fighting a bullet and working HR to do the hard thing that ultimately is the right thing that then reinforces all of the company image campaigning that you're doing that the 85 are sitting back and saying, " I'm hearing what you're saying over here, but I'm watching what you're doing over here and they don't align."

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Don't align. Yes, absolutely. I'm with you though on that 110%. And I think there is always that intrepidation, right? Am I making the right decision? You don't want to disrupt people's lives and you think if I let this person go or... It's a hard emotional decision and I'm not discounting that, but I've not met a single leader that I've worked with that has regretted making that tough decision after the fact. Prior to making the decision, it's angsty. You lay in bed at night, you worry about it, it's going to be hard. But after it's done, I've not met anyone that said, " Oh, I wish I wouldn't have let that person go or removed them out of my team." There's always that sigh of relief once it's done. And sometimes it takes engaging with a coach just to help you make that decision, that really tough decision.

Phyllis Quinlan: And that is so very, very true. And how many times have you worked with clients that are the new leader in the department and all of a sudden it becomes glaringly apparent within the first week that we've got one or two folks here that are definitely pulling in a different direction. You go down to HR and you want to pull their employment jacket, and you take a look at your jacket and you see their evaluations and it's met, met, met, met, met all the way down, no one ever dealt with the elephant in the room. And you realize this has been ongoing. And if you say to HR, " Well, why don't you give me Bill's employment jacket." And go, " Oh, Bill? Yeah, sure. I'm sure you want to see that jacket." Meanwhile, you haven't done anything. So it's kind of like seeing something in the middle of the room and trying to sweep around it, over it, through it, it's not going to happen until you address what's there. And unfortunately, or fortunately, because human resources serve a greater good rather than a punitive thing, what needs to be done is that you have to have consistent documentation of disruptive behaviors. So this is where pen and paper and the good old fish and anecdotal note really help you outline for human resources that there is a pattern of this behavior regardless of just- in- time coaching, regardless of sending them to a class, regardless of this or that or the other thing. I've put them back in orientation, I've sent them to time management class, and despite my best efforts at due diligence to appeal to this person's higher good, here we are yet again and I am now going to give them the worst performance evaluation of their career and we need to be ready to have an answer and a 30- day, 60- day, no more than 100- day performance improvement plan in place to follow that up to help them understand, " Well, we're serious."( singing).

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: When I work with my clients, I want them to discover their unique personal story. So they can then stand tall in that story and live a life full of soul and emotions and their natural curiosity about their unique gifts, talents, and abilities so they can live a thriving life because our brains are hardwired for stories and our brain wants us to thrive. So I help my clients tap into that. And I also have a sponsor for this podcast called StoryBook, which is a unique and innovative platform that helps you bring your company stories to life by tapping into the emotional flow and the natural curiosity that we have about your products and services. So check them out. You can go to my website, wethrive. live, click on the Stand Tall in Your Story link and see the kind of work they're doing for us, or go to their site, cantaloupe. tv and there's hundreds of stories there that they've created that you can experience. Check them out. We're so grateful to work with them and for them to sponsor the podcast.( singing). Let's talk more about the bullying side of thing. Let's do some descriptions of what that looks and sounds like and some recommendations. So if it's bullying behaviors happening, what are we seeing? What are we feeling? What do we crosstalk?

Phyllis Quinlan: So the person who's chronically uncivil is annoying, disruptive, distracting, sucking all the energy out of the room. The person who is engaging and bullying is destructive, not disruptive, but destructive. So in many cases, you're going to find that the personality profile of a bully aligns itself very closely with the narcissist. And so what I try to do with the organizational leaders is to raise their awareness and understanding of the disruptive behavior of narcissism and how that personality disorder plays out and what behaviors you can anticipate. And I always start with, do not try to take on a narcissist/ bully by yourself. This is where you're going to definitely need a coordinated effort because these people have engaged in their narcissistic bullying and manipulative behavior, confounding behavior, relying on plausible deniability all of their lives and they're masterful at it. And you cannot out- think a narcissist in that regard. You just have to be aware enough that you realize and anticipate what their next move is going to be and you have a strategy to be ready for that next move. So one of the things, if you're trying to decide, well, is the person chronically uncivil, or are they a narcissist? Bully is who's engaging in leapfrogging behavior because a narcissist truly believes that they're special, even though they're coming from a place of a frail or fragile ego. They truly believe that they're special. Therefore, their immediate report, their middle manager is they leapfrog middle management and go directly to directorships or executive management with all sorts of audacious kinds of implications, the insight and the audacity of leapfrogging and their thought pattern in all of this is, " Well, you're just a middle manager and I'm so very special. And if you were any good at what you did, you'd be an executive leader or a director. So why should I waste my time with you? I need to leapfrog." Now, when you call them on that kind of departure from structure, they're going to give you the plausible deniability of, " Oh, gee. Well, I just saw the guy in the hall and I took that opportunity. He's always saying open- door policy. So I took advantage of that." So there's always going to be this umbrella of plausible deniability around behavior that is well- intended and well thought- out.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Oh my gosh. I promise you that every listener right now is thinking of someone that they either currently work with or have worked with or might be married to that exhibits this behavior. Right?

Phyllis Quinlan: Absolutely.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And what's difficult for me as high on the impact scale is I do know it comes from deep seated insecurity. And there's this part of me that feels for their cause, however-

Phyllis Quinlan: Yeah. Be careful there. Be careful there.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: ...however, it is so unbelievably disruptive to everyone else's experience that if you do not deal with it, and I say that because that's what happens a lot is people have this endearing, especially if you're in HR, you got into HR oftentimes because you care about people and you want to help them and you want to save them, but you are taking down the team by tolerating this kind of behavior.

Phyllis Quinlan: So Rebecca, I got to stop you there because I've got to just corroborate what you're saying. And I just need to say that you've got to be careful because one of the real personality traits of a narcissist is they have predator qualities. They are, now remember, they're usually going to be fairly good looking, all right, or at least appealing. They're going to have mesmerizing eyes and they're going to be able to be charming. Charming to a way that you think to yourself, " Huh, let me give this guy another shot. Let me give this girl. She's so misunderstood," which is exactly what they're playing too and they're playing you like a fiddle. So you remember when I said, if you're trying to remediate someone who's chronically uncivil, it's going to look like a staircase. If you're trying to foolishly, and I'm going to underline foolishly trying to change or remediate a narcissistic bully, it's going to happen with, first is going to be a bullying episode, then there's going to be a time of remorse and maybe oversolicitation of trying to be too nice, then there's going to be this latent period. And then there's going to be this irritability. And everybody's kind of knows more bullying is coming and they're trying to do everything to placate this person and then there's another bullying episode. It's a cycle, not a staircase. And it absolutely mimics the same kind of cycle of domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, any other type of abuse's behavior is cyclical. And narcissistic bullying behavior nears that. So when you say to me, " Phyllis, how are we going to remediate this person?" My answer is, " Don't even try." The only answer to a bully is to get them to the door. And if you're silly enough to think that you are actually going to remediate someone who cannot identify themselves and need to change, because that's their number one thing. They're perfect. They're wonderful. Everything they do is so very special, whether they're sharing that with you or not, that's their belief. Therefore, the world needs to accommodate their specialness. They don't need to change. " You need to change to accommodate me. My colleagues need to change the me. Rules are not meant for me, or they must be meant for the little people, but not for super special me. I need a special accommodation over here." And you find yourself at sealed story, if you give a mouse a cookie, they're going to want a glass of milk. It's never going to be enough. And the one foundation you have for being able to let go of habitual behaviors that are self- sabotaging is that you first have to acknowledge that you have a problem and a narcissist cannot, will not, never will do that. Do not waste your time, effort or money. You just get a coordinated effort with human resources executive leadership to document, document, document, until you have, and this might even take a year or 18 months, until you have a pattern on a spreadsheet of an episode here, an episode there, an episode with a staff member, a client, a family member, a housekeeping, and you have it's irrefutable in front of whoever is mediating the wrongful termination suit that they will bring.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I am so thrilled that you're having this conversation with our listeners because it happens so often. And is it not possible that by trying to remediate instead of remove, that you actually reinforce their cycle and feed the beast a little bit is the term that I use because you've given them attention. And so they've had to go in stronger with their bad behavior. And it actually increases that bad behavior muscle instead of diminishing it, because they're never going to be aware of it. They're only going to up their predator game around it. Is that fair?

Phyllis Quinlan: Well, two things you have to understand and you have to take very, very seriously. The first thing is that a narcissistic bully is not going to get angry. They're going to get even. If we got a lesson- seller performance evaluation, or we got some just- in- time coaching that said, " Gee, wow, that went really bad. Can we figure out a way to do it better next time?" We take it seriously and we'd weigh it. And we'd say, " I have to agree with maybe 60% of that feedback or 40% I think is often money, but I'll work on that 60%." And we will grow from that because we have good emotional intelligence and we understand that this kind of pushback actually gives us an opportunity to spring forward. A narcissist sees that same feedback, that same just- in- time coaching as a threat to their entity and a threat to their story and a threat to their ego, which means that in their mind you have to be destroyed. So a campaign of revenge will ensue. And they will wait and they will act on that, again, using plausible deniability to fight behind. But this is one of the reasons why you never take one of these folks on by yourself because your executive leadership and your human resources and whoever else is a stakeholder in deciding, " Yes, we are going to move this person to the door at some point. And here's the strategy for that." They have to be aware that this person will be revenge seeking and that they will go on a campaign to destroy your credibility. And when they can't do that, they'll destroy your boss's credibility, or they'll go out on a campaign against the company, but they have to have their pound of flesh and you need to be ready for it.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Oh my gosh, this is so important. This is so important.

Phyllis Quinlan: It truly is. So the other piece here is we have to be careful about our own good nature. So I'm not sure if your listeners are aware that bullying and chronic incivility thrive in healthcare. So you want to ask the question, " Well, why would bullying thrive in a caring profession?" So it's kind of like, " Well, why did you rob banks?" Because that's where the money is. If you are a personality that needs leadership around you that's always willing to extend the finish line, always willing to try to give you another remedy, always willing to hold your hand as you try to grow or heal, if you want that, then healthcare is the place for you. So you have to be very, very careful that you are not having your own caregiver personality, whether you're in healthcare or not. If you're a good caring person, they'll spot it and they will ring it out for every drop it's worth.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Girl preach. I can give example after example, personal and professional in my life, my client's life of that being completely accurate. And I would also ask someone that's questioning whether they should deal with this or not, that if they read about bullying in school, are they enraged and think it should be dealt with immediately. We shouldn't tolerate bullying in school, but yet I see people tolerate it in the workplace constantly. And I'm like, " Hold on."

Phyllis Quinlan: Yeah. You wonder about those things like, " When did this start." And we don't have that much empirical data on all of this because remember if someone's neurotic and they're suffering and they're causing themselves some suffering, usually they'll submit to some kind of, I don't want to say analysis, but some kind of study to say, " Okay, what am I doing that's causing this? And maybe I'll learn from it? I'll submit to the study, or I'll submit to this and maybe it'll benefit me in the long run." Narcissists, it's a personality disorder, which means that they are neurotic, but kind of like neurotic on steroids. And they don't feel that there's anything wrong with them. So why should they submit to being studied? Because that would be validation that you're right and they're not. So we don't have a tremendous amount of data to share about where the origins and aetiology of all of this is. But what we do know is that the child who bullies in school, and for whatever reason they do not address it, and the child who probably bullied siblings or was acting out at home and then goes pre-K and then school. Then graduates and goes to high school and is a high school bully. Then graduates and goes to college and is a college bully. And then graduates and goes into the workplace and you know the ending.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Phyllis Quinlan: Okay. One thing I do want to share though, people who are bullied, don't usually turn around and bully back. That's not what they do. So I've been asked that question, are some of the bullies in workplaces people who have been subject to bullying behavior, and the answer is no. Most of those people will either leave or they will find some kind of empowerment and they will champion initiatives to have a healthy workplace. And they will work with their colleagues who perhaps are being challenged by similar situations. But people who are indeed bully don't necessarily go on to bully. This is something very, very unique.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: I'm so grateful for you and this topic. And my goodness, in the time that we have today, I think we've given some really tangible takeaways of identifying and what to do about it. But for those that want to dig deeper, how can they engage with you? So you have a book on this topic, you have a coaching and consulting practice. Tell us how we can take this further with you?

Phyllis Quinlan: So if you go to my website, and my website is M as in Michael, F as in Frank, W as in William, Consultants with an S. So mfwconsultants. com. And if you go on there, you can read about my full service consulting firm and the coaching and the leadership development, executive leadership is a big part of what I offer. And you could read more again on my website. I do have a store tab on my website. If you click on that and go to books, you can then purchase a hard copy of my book which is Bringing Shadow Behavior Into the Light of Day: Understanding& Effectively Managing Bullying& Incivility. And you can purchase a hard copy on my website, or you can go to Kindle and put in my name, Phyllis Quinlan and bullying behavior or bullying and incivility, and it should pop up on Amazon as a Kindle version and you can purchase it that way.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Excellent. Excellent. Thank you for dedicating a part of your career to this important topic. I know you've got your, " Regular job," in the healthcare space and this is something that you've just been passionate enough to pull it aside and shine a light on it. And I'm grateful for you in doing that.

Phyllis Quinlan: Yes. The time is right, people are right. And I do think it's a leadership imperative. If you're a leader of a mindset that truly wants to be transformational and bring your company into the 21st century, it starts with your people and it starts with the ease of which the environment with which they work in. And I just encourage your leaders to reach out to me and help me be a part of their solutions.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: And we'll bring that back to where we started. If you're struggling to get people to come back to the office, into the workplace, this may be an area that you need to address. It's definitely one that needs some of your attention, but also people's standards have been upped in terms of what they're expecting in the workplace. So even if you thought things were just okay before, now is the time to say, " Just okay isn't good enough."

Phyllis Quinlan: Right. Well said.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: Thank you so much for being here.

Phyllis Quinlan: Thank you, Rebecca.

Rebecca Fleetwood Hession: For today's episode, the first reflection question is, is there workplace behavior that's going on right now or has in the past and you were in a work team that needs to be addressed, and who can you talk to about it? The second reflection question is, how can you create an environment where people are comfortable speaking up about this type of workplace behavior? Thanks so much for being here and please join the online community at badasswomenscouncil. community where we can continue the conversation and you can meet other badass high achievers like you. Thanks so much. Make it a great day. If you like the music for the podcast, go to iTunes, Spotify, wherever you listen to your music and look up Cameron Hession, Clouds, you can download the full song there. He's got some other stuff out there as well. And you all, he's my son. Would be great if you'd go and download some of his stuff.(singing).(silence).(singing).


This week Rebecca sits down with Phyllis Quinlan, Ph.D., author of Bringing Shadow Behavior Into the Light of Day, and President of MFW Consultants. Phyllis is here to help us recognize disruptive behavior, including bullying and narcissistic behavior, to guide us to handle those personalities in the workplace. Tune in this week for Phyllis's insights into how you can stop letting disruptive behavior ruin your experiences and culture at work.

Today's Host

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Rebecca Fleetwood Hession

|CEO/Founder WEthrive.live

Today's Guests

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Phyllis Quinlan

|PhD, RN Executive Coach / Life Coach